Hello friends from our GLBTQ Latino Community! Let’s talk about HIV vaccines.
It was June 1981 when the Centers for Disease control and Prevention (CDC) reported that “five homosexuals in Los Angeles had developed a rare form of pneumonia.” These were the first documented cases of what we now know as AIDS. Since that time, more than 65 million people worldwide have been infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Today, nearly 39 million people around the world are living with HIV, and there still isn’t a cure.
Looking back on the 25 plus years since the first AIDS cases were identified, we can see the devastating effect that HIV has had on our planet. The quest for a cure has been difficult to say the least, and while there has been much progress on research, treatment and prevention, today’s young people don’t seem to have the same sense of urgency about HIV we had two decades ago that is still so important to the fight against AIDS. The comfort zone that the younger generation has entered makes them the most vulnerable group to new infections. Despite the many channels of information that reach the new generation, including the tremendous power of the Internet, spreading the word about safe sex hasn’t gotten any easier. While prevention and treatment of HIV are essential, they alone cannot provide us with the one tool truly capable of ending AIDS. The development of a safe and effective HIV vaccine remains our best hope to make AIDS a disease of the past.
Prevention strategies and continuous research for an HIV vaccine are both necessary to free the world from AIDS. Community education is perhaps the most important element for the success of the HIV Prevention. Latino men who have sex with men (MSM) and drug users who use needles continue to be at high risk of HIV infection. Women also represent a growing percentage of new HIV infections. Latinos in the U.S. remain one of the groups most affected by HIV/AIDS due to obstacles like language barriers, poverty, substance abuse, and low access of quality health care services. The more that our community knows about HIV vaccine research, the more informed we will be about the challenges of HIV, and the more we will understand the importance of vaccine research to the cause of ending AIDS. The goal is to design an HIV vaccine that will be safe, effective, and available to everyone. But in order to find a vaccine that will be effective in all populations, it is vital that every community, including Latinos, participate in the research. Latinos can help the investigation simply by supporting clinical trial volunteers, serving on community advisory boards, or by volunteering for one of the many clinical trials currently taking place around the world and across the U.S.
For additional information about HIV Vaccines research, please visit: http://bethegeneration.nih.gov/